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The Religious and Cultural Background of Joseph Smith Papyrus I

TitleThe Religious and Cultural Background of Joseph Smith Papyrus I
Publication TypeJournal Article
Year of Publication2013
AuthorsMuhlestein, Kerry M.
JournalJournal of the Book of Mormon and Other Restoration Scripture
KeywordsAbraham (Prophet); Ancient Egypt; Book of Abraham Translation; Jesus Christ–Jehovah; Joseph Smith Papyri; Moses (Prophet); Pearl of Great Price; Smith, Joseph, Jr.

Throughout its history, ancient Egyptian religion showed a remarkable capacity for adopting new religious ideas and characters and adapting them for use in an already existing system of worship. This process continued, and perhaps accelerated, during the Greco-Roman era of Egyptian history. Egyptian priests readily used foreign religious characters in their rituals and religious formulas, particularly from Greek and Jewish religions. Religious texts demonstrate that Egyptian priests knew of both biblical and nonbiblical accounts of many Jewish figures—especially Jehovah, Abraham, and Moses—by about 200 bc. Knowing this religio-cultural background helps us understand how the priest in Thebes who owned Joseph Smith Papyrus I would have been familiar with stories of Abraham.